8th European Conference on Speech Communication and Technology

Geneva, Switzerland
September 1-4, 2003


Towards the Automatic Generation of Mixed-Initiative Dialogue Systems from Web Content

Joseph Polifroni (1), Grace Chung (2), Stephanie Seneff (1)

(1) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
(2) Corporation for National Research Initiatives, USA

Through efforts over the past fifteen years, we have acquired a great deal of experience in designing spoken dialogue systems that provide access to large corpora of data in a variety of different knowledge domains, such as flights, hotels, restaurants, weather, etc. In our recent research, we have begun to shift our focus towards developing tools that enable the rapid development of new applications. This paper addresses a novel approach that drives system design from the on-line knowledge resource. We were motivated by a desire to minimize the need for a pre-determined dialogue flow. In our approach, decisions on dialogue flow are made dynamically based on analyses of data, either prior to user interaction or during the dialogue itself. Automated methods, used to organize numeric and symbolic data, can be applied at every turn, as user constraints are being specified. This helps the user mine through large data sets to a few choices by allowing the system to synthesize intelligent summaries of the data, created on-the-fly at every turn. Moreover automatic methods are ultimately more robust against the frequent changes to on-line content. Simulations generating hundreds of dialogues have produced log files that allow us to assess and improve system behavior, including system responses and interactions with the dialogue flow. Together, these techniques are aimed towards the goal of instantiating new domains with little or no input from a human developer.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Polifroni, Joseph / Chung, Grace / Seneff, Stephanie (2003): "Towards the automatic generation of mixed-initiative dialogue systems from web content", In EUROSPEECH-2003, 193-196.